Egypt – The Jewels of the Nile – Part III

Egypt – The Jewels of the Nile - Part III

The final article in this series explores the gems of Luxor including the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens and the astonishing Temples of Karnak and Luxor, before reaching a climatic end at the monumental Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx.

As we forged ahead on our journey, the cruise headed north from the region of Aswan towards Luxor, where we continued to enjoy the ever changing scenic landscapes of the Nile, from the reddish earth of Nubian lands in the south, to luscious green dunes that flanked the river banks, which was capped off by glorious sunsets at dusk.

Luxor

Luxor Temple

Luxor was once known as the great city of Thebes and for centuries was the capital of the Egyptian Kingdom, and it is in this city that the Temple of Luxor was built11. ‘The entrance of the Luxor Temple is marked by the great pylon, which stands at 65m wide. In front of the pylon there used to stand two obelisks of Ramses II (each towering at  25m in height), but today only one remains, the other was erected in the centre of the Place de la Concorde in Paris in 1836.

The entrance is flanked by two giant granite statutes representing the Pharaoh at 15.5m high’12. Beyond the grand entrance is the courtyard of Ramses II, dominated by columns that look majestic lit up in full glory at night.

Temple of Karnak

‘Approximately three kilometres from the Temple of Luxor are the monuments of Karnak, which is the largest of any temple in the world. Among its splendours is the hypostyle hall which is 102m long by 53m wide, featuring 134 columns each 23m in height.

Beyond the hypostyle hall stands the obelisk of Tutmose I towering at 23m high and weighing 143 tonnes. It is believed that 81,322 people were involved in building the site’13. One can only imagine the scale of this temple in its original form; its immensity is awe inspiring.

Valley of the Kings

When I first arrived at the Valley of the Kings, I saw nothing but mountainous sand. It’s difficult to fathom that under these hills are underground channels leading to tombs, where pharaohs have been buried. To this day, archaeologists continue to dig up tunnels in order to unravel relics and hidden treasures.

‘The Valley of the Kings is the burial place of many of the New Kingdom Pharaohs. Its history began with Tutmose I, who wished to be buried in a secret place, thus setting a precedent which was followed by all successive pharaohs. A well-like tomb was excavated in an isolated valley and then a steep stairway was carved out of the rock leading down to the burial chamber’14. The highlight of this tourist site is the opportunity to enter the tomb of Tutankhamon and view his mummified body. (Be warned, cameras are not permitted inside; the stairway is steep and narrow and is not ideal for the elderly, people suffering from breathing difficulties or claustrophobia).

Valley of the Queens & the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut

‘Just over one kilometre away from the Valley of the Kings is the Valley of the Queens, where eighty tombs have been discovered, mostly dating from the period 1300 to 1100 B.C. Within the valley is the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, which consists of a series of vast terraces, which by means of ramps led to the sanctuary’15. As you reach the first terrace, you’re greeted by enormous statues of sphinxes that guard the entranceway; I guess in today’s world, we’d jokingly refer to them as a posse of ‘door bitches’.

Colossi of Memnon

We made a quick photo stop at the towering Colossi of Memnon, located along the west bank of the Nile. ‘These two giant seated figures are all that is left of Amon-Ofis III mortuary temple. These two gigantic statues are 20m high and were cut out of single blocks of sandstone’16.

Giza

To save the best for last, the tour reached its pinnacle with a guided excursion of Giza where we stood in awe at the enigmatic Sphinx and the monumental Pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Micerinus.

The Great Pyramids

‘The Pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Micerinus are arranged diagonally, in such a way that none of them hides the sun from the others. The pyramid of Cheops is the largest of the three, standing at 137m high but has completely lost its protective facing that covers the internal blocks. Chephren’s pyramid is the only one which still has, at least at the top, the smooth external facing. The smallest of the three is the pyramid of Micerinus, at barely 66m high. In front of Micerinus’s pyramid there are three satellite pyramids’17.

I was gobsmacked by the sheer size of the Pyramids. The word monumental or colossal doesn’t begin to describe the scale of these sites.

‘Each pyramid is square at the base, the length of each side being 246.26 metres, while each stone block is at least 9.24m long.  It took 10-20 years to build this astonishing man-made structure, using 100,000 men’18.

For a few laughs, why not take the opportunity to ride a camel with the Pyramids as a backdrop. I can guarantee a few Kodak moments.

The Sphinx

‘About 350m from Cheops’s pyramid stands the Great Sphinx. At 73m long, this colossal statue represents a lion with a human head which some believe to be a likeness of Chephren standing guard over his tomb. The defacement of this monument is due in part to erosion by the wind and the cannon of the Mamelukes who used it for target practice’19.

Memphis

To top off the afternoon, a final stop is made at Memphis where we viewed the massive statues of Ramses II. ‘Carved from a single block of alabaster it is 4.5m high, 8m long and weighs, it is believed, at least 80 tonnes’20. This is where the tour comes to a finale. As they say, all good things must come to an end.

Writing this day by day account of my 11-day tour of Egypt felt like a gargantuan task, in addition to selecting and editing the stunning pictures for each piece. It’s almost reflective of the colossal, monumental and ancient structures that Egypt is renowned for. In summary, I was awestruck by Egypt and its jewels along the Nile. As a tourist, you’re presented with some of the most amazing sights built by the hand of man, all of which were created thousands of years before Christ. This was my Ode to Egypt, I hope you enjoyed it.

References

Chalaby, A. All of Egypt – From Cairo to Abu Simbel, Sinai. Florence, Casa Editrice Bonechi, 2010

Citations on Request

38 thoughts on “Egypt – The Jewels of the Nile – Part III

  1. Egypt was a place I’ve always wanted to visit. I wonder if it’s safe for tourists to visit now…if not, I hope it will be again during my lifetime. These photos remind me of my ❤ for history. =]

  2. I can’t wait to set my feet on the sands of this ancient land… Having read so many books about and based on this place, it gives me goosebumps to just look at these photos!! Great post!!
    Cheers,
    Sumithra.

  3. I worked in Cairo for 3 months…a extraordinary experience,you can read articles,you can see photos…nothing compares with the real thing

  4. I went to Egypt a few years ago and my photos almost replicate yours! It was absolutely wonderful from beginning to end. We began in Cairo then went to Luxor and then took the Nile Cruise and ended up in Aswan. As we progressed through the country, I fell more and more in love with it. By the time we reached Aswan, I was reluctant to come home.
    It is truly beautiful, with fabulous sites to see and lovely people.
    Wonderful article.

  5. Glad you enjoyed Egypt. I was fortunate enough to be a tour leader for an adventure travel company and worked in Egypt for quite a while. It’s a beautiful country and no matter how many times I visited the monuments, they never failed to fill me with awe!

  6. Awwww, I am so envious! Egypt is definitely on my “leaky bucket list” (ref my blog post Why My Bucket List is Leaking”. It’s about how I’ve wanted to go to Egypt since I was a kid, but it doesn’t seem like a great place for a solo female traveler at the moment. Thanks so much for sharing this post – makes me feel like I’ve been. :O)

    • Egypt was great fun. Highly recommended. I must admit, even having my sister with me, we didn’t feel all too comfortable walking the streets of Cairo. You get stared at a lot, beeped at, taxi drivers and street hawkers following you…it’s a bit crazy. But once you’re in a group, especially with other males, it’s a lot easier to get by. But if you’re not the adventurous type, I suggest a guided tour. It’s the best way to explore the country:)

  7. Finally, I have read all three of the Egyptian posts. Fascinating to see photos of settings of novels I have read in the past. Egyptology is fascinating and a visit is definitely on the bucket list. Thank you for your effort in putting this together.

    • Oh wow!!!!! Thank you so very much. This was one of the most AMAZING trips I’ve been on. Egypt is such a fascinating country, steeped in history and rich in culture…

  8. Pingback: Egypt – The Jewels of the Nile – Part III | THE VIBE 101

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s